Uncle Dave Macon (1870–1952)

Updated: March 01, 2011

Early country banjo player and singer.

David Harrison Macon was born October 7, 1870, in Warren County, Tennessee. When he was thirteen, his family moved to Nashville, where they ran a hotel that served as headquarters for many circus and vaudeville acts. Macon acquired his first banjo at the age of fourteen. After his father’s death the family moved to rural Cannon County, Tennessee. There, Macon farmed and ran a mule-drawn transportation company.

Macon learned the traditional songs of the region as well as popular songs from vaudeville and medicine shows. At the age of fifty, he embarked on a musical career that lasted more than thirty years. He became the most popular performer on the early Grand Ole Opry and one of the first country music recording stars. Macon was a crucial link between the southern folk music and commercial country music. His repertoire included traditional ballads, vaudeville tunes, comic songs, gospel music, and topical songs (“The Bible’s True,” about the Scopes trial, and “All In, Down and Out Blues,” about the depression). Many of his comic lyrics derived from black folk music. His first record to be released was “Chewing Gum,” perhaps his most popular comedy song. Macon performed with other musicians, including Sid Harkreader and Sam and Kirk McGee, and his style influenced Stringbean and Grandpa Jones, among others. Macon’s band recorded as the Fruit Jar Drinkers and as the Dixie Sacred Singers. He died March 22, 1952. In 1966 Macon was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Later generations continued to celebrate his music through such festivals as the Uncle Dave Macon Days Celebration in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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MLA Style

"Uncle Dave Macon," Encyclopedia of Appalachia, 2017, Encyclopedia of Appalachia. 21 Aug 2017 <http://www.encyclopediaofappalachia.com/entry.php?rec=149>

APA Style

"Uncle Dave Macon." (2017) In Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Retrieved August 21, 2017, from Encyclopedia of Appalachia: http://www.encyclopediaofappalachia.com/entry.php?rec=149

Uncle Dave Macon